Brock Township Fire Chief Rick Harrison is among those applauding area MPP Laurie Scott’s efforts to protect ‘double hatters’ – full-time firefighters that also serve as volunteers with other departments.
According to a media release from Scott, full-time professional firefighters have risked serious consequences such as fines or dismissal if they also chose to serve as volunteer firefighters. The proposed reforms, which were included in the government’s Fall Economic Statement, would eliminate these unfair penalties and empower double hatters to serve their communities without the fear of legal repercussions.
“Local fire departments and municipalities in our riding have been asking for protection for double hatters for a long time, and I’ve been personally advocating on this issue for over fifteen years,” Scott said.
“As Minister of Labour I’m thrilled to finally have the opportunity to protect these heroes from unfair punishment and empower them to serve their communities and save lives.”
There are currently three double hatters within the local fire department’s ranks.
“As a small community fire department, we appreciate Minister Scott taking action to protect firefighters who double hat. This is about empowering and protecting full-time firefighters who wish to volunteer their time to help out their neighbours in our community,” Harrison said in a media release.
Fire departments and chiefs across the province have also reacted positively.
“Full-time fire firefighters should be able to service their community as volunteers and we welcome the government’s policy change, making it easier to volunteer in smaller communities and finally putting this issue to rest. I feel volunteers should be thanked for their service, not punished,” said Minden Hills Fire Chief Mike Bekking.
“I support Minister Scott’s legislation to protect the freedom of full-time firefighters to volunteer without the fear of fines or job loss. Allowing ‘double hatters’ will strengthen fire departments across Ontario and reinforce public safety in our community,” added Chief Mark Pankhurst of the Kawartha Lakes Fire Rescue Service.
“This is a long overdue change that will benefit the City of Kawartha Lakes. We have several double hatters in the Kawartha Lakes, and I’d like to thank our Kawartha Lakes Professional Firefighters and double hatters for always maintaining a respectful working relationship.”